A brief summary of what I thought were the main points at Sunday’s discussion group on the topic of women in politics:
(Admin: please feel free to add anything I may have skipped over, especially on the topic of Harriet Harman’s comments, as I wasn’t present for that part)
Harriet Harman’s comments: “Men cannot be left to run things on their own. I think it’s a thoroughly bad thing to have a men-only leadership. In a country where women regard themselves as equal, they are not prepared to see men just running the show themselves. I think a balanced team of men and women makes better decisions.”
How did these rational words get so twisted by the media?
How do women get elected to constituencies?
The atmosphere of aggressive and often puerile debate in Parliament. Is this a factor, are women actually choosing not to go into politics, if they have to go into this kind of environment? I found it interesting to note the phenomenon of group interaction. It was mentioned that in a group full of men, some of us felt we became more ‘masculine’ in arguing and speaking style; as in more gestural and loud, in order to be listened to or even heard.
Are the hours of work in Parliament discouraging for women who have families? We briefly touched on child-rearing and workplace dilemmas, including still archaic soceitial attitudes. For example, women are assumed to want (or need or that they ought) to spend more time with their offspring, ignoring the man who works all hours and his potential difficulties with only seeing his children at weekends. Is there a marked difference between the situation in the Scottish Parliament and in Westminster?
Is it a possibility that established women in, say, the Conservative party are prejudiced against working under a (young) female leader as opposed to a man? Could this sort of attitude, especially among the older generations, be preventing women from getting high up the political ladder?
The fact that female politicians still get judged on their clothes and appearance over their politics. We briefly talked about Germaine Greer’s column in the Guardian criticising Michelle Obama’s dress; was this supposed to be ironic? Those who read it commented that if it was indeed intended to be, then it really was not obvious! We would’ve expected better..
On the whole this was a really great discussion and thanks to everybody who came along. We are also pleased to have arranged a more structured group format from now on with sharing of administrative and facilitation responsiblities on a rota basis.
YAY for feminisim!